National slow down day has arrived but it should be called pay attention day.
The war on speed continues and Gardaí will have a much more visible presence on the roads today using hand-held lasers, unmarked vans, go-safe vans and in car speed detectors in an attempt to slow down drivers.
From today the Gardaí will be more visible on the roads, this is to prevent you speeding which is the way it should be all the time. Normally they sit on motorway ramps where you can't see them so they can 'catch' you.
Preventing speeding is a much better way of slowing people down, a visible speed camera or patrol cars tends to bring traffic to a standstill because these days you can get three penalty points for being a couple of kilometers over the limit.
It isn't that we need to slow down so much, it's that we need a National "Pay attention" day.
Let me explain, the majority of accidents happen because of a distracted driver. Trying to predict what other drivers might do will save you having an accident in the first place.
Driving as the conditions dictate while paying close attention to other road users will have a better effect than just slowing down. In a study carried out in the UK it's speeding while distracted or "driver error or reaction" that accounts for some 60p/c of fatal accidents. When you mix "driver error" with speeding then the fatalities happen.
While slowing down mitigates the energy from a crash, that means the effect will be less and everyone might walk away with some bruises. Paying more attention might mean you don't crash in the first place.
So what can you do to improve your skills?
There's all kinds of advanced drivers courses, most of them will get you a reduction on your insurance bill as well. The normal driving test doesn't include driving on a motorway or dealing multi-lane roads so further education in motoring should be a requirement.
Some of the RSA budget could be put towards funding this kind of course but the best thing to do right now is to bring driver education into schools. On a track we could be teaching 13 year olds how to drive in a safe environment, we could teach 17 year olds how to drive on the road as part of the curriculum. Teaching good road behaviour from early on would give any driver a better chance when they take to the roads.
Try not to drive while looking at the speedometer today, slow down, put the cruise control on and above all; pay attention!